Saturday, February 26, 2011

Food storage.

One of my long term goals is to stop using plastic containers to store food (except perhaps the occasional reused yogurt container or cheap containers for gifts), and to use glass or ceramic instead. Glass containers last forever (or at least until you break them), you don't have to worry about microwaving them (no BPA or other nasty chemicals leaching into your food), and they won't get brittle and crack in the freezer.

Pyrex glass storage.
Plus, you know, less stuff, less waste, cheaper in the long run, all those good things.

I have an assortment of these modern Pyrex glass storage containers with plastic lids, and they are great. You can buy them everywhere. They are microwave-safe, oven-safe (without the lids), and freezer-safe. The lids seal really well, so they're perfect for taking leftovers to work or freezing. The lids are also BPA-free, and anyway, they shouldn't actually touch your food much. (And no, I'm not getting paid to say this. Haha. I wish! Someone, please pay me for my blog!)

An eminently practical and versatile item. I'm a fan. The only problem: They're so ... boring. They're not the most aesthetically pleasing option.

(And you can't get replacement lids, which is a problem because I'm pretty sure my cupboards eat lids for breakfast.)

"But, Inder, who needs aesthetically pleasing food storage?"

Um, good point. No one needs pretty tupperware. But here's my theory (more of a thesis, really): If an utilitarian item can be made pretty, it should be.

Because, as you may recall, I love folk art.

What distinguishes folk art from "fine art"? I'm glad you asked! According to Wikipedia, "In contrast to fine art, folk art is primarily utilitarian and decorative rather than purely aesthetic."

For the purposes of this blog post, this means: My kitchen stuff should be nice to look at. Maybe even my food storage. So there.

So anyway, before the invention of Tupperware and BPA, people stored food in glass jars.  Because Rebecca loves to make jam, we always have canning jars in abundance. We use Mason jars for storing beans, grains, and other dry goods, as well as liquid leftovers like broth, stock, and soup, and they do have a certain old-timey aesthetic appeal. The jars are cheap, tempered so they can be heated or frozen without breaking, and they are endlessly reusable. Rebecca uses Mason jars for everything, it seems, even to carry water or hot tea. (Warning: The average Mason jar does not fit in a standard car cup-holder. I have tried. Maybe the little pint jars? Rebecca?)

You can purchase them by the dozen.
But, they are best used for storing liquids, or perhaps loose beans and grains. They are not ideal for storing leftover casserole or a sandwich. Try getting a PB&J into a Mason jar.

Anchor Hocking Co.
Which brings us to my latest eBay obsession (although I no longer indulge in much retail therapy, I still have a weakness for not-so-cheap second-hand goods) - vintage glass refrigerator storage dishes.

First, the classic, and still available brand-spanking-new, the Anchor Hocking Company glass refrigerator storage dishes. The Anchor Hocking Co. has been making these since the depression, at least. Why use crappy old plastic containers when you can store your leftovers in something that looks like this? (Yeah, okay, so it's not the most practical item to bring your lunch to work in, but maybe the regular Pyrex with lids will be okay for that.)

Or what about vintage Pyrex refrigerator storage? Those of you who are a bit older than me might remember these beauties; I was raised in the era of margarine and sketchy stained plastic Tupperware (in colors like "gold" and "avocado").

Be still, my heart
Now that is folk art, folks. Beeaa-uuuu-tiful. And practical. And green and stuff (extra green because, being second-hand, no manufacturing is required!). And did I mention pretty?

But before I get on eBay and start bidding on Pyrex fridge-ware in the "Gold Butterfly" pattern (what can I say? I feel some nostalgia for that whole mustard/avocado color line), I have a couple of questions for anyone out there who actually uses vintage Pyrex: Can you microwave it? I'm trying to remember if I ever microwave my regular Pyrex mixing bowls. I think so. Is that bad? If you have vintage Pyrex experience, please let me know! When you're trying to save money by eating up lots of leftovers, it's really nice if a food storage dish can be microwaved.

Now, please excuse me while I go peruse gorgeous Pyrex porn.

Who thought I could get so excited over food storage?

P.S. Snow, my ass. Humph.


  1. 1) Oh no, the jars fit in my car's cupholders, but I guess I've never tried them in yours! (I should note that I'm slightly less of a hippie these days, and I do have a canteen for water. Which, shockingly I haven't lost yet. Despite Joe's best efforts!)

    2) You can totally microwave pyrex! It's essentially glass.

  2. Hm. I guess the issue is whether the fridge-ware is tempered the way the oven-ware is. Will it break if it goes quickly from hot to cold?

  3. I love all the glass. I would also live switching my food storage to glass. One day... For now I'll just have to suffer with my ugly icky plastic Tupperware. I'm too poor to buy all that pretty glass right now. I'll just admire your pictures instead.

  4. We don't have anything besides the eminently sensible modern Pyrex, which is actually pretty inexpensive when you consider how long it lasts. But yeah, I hear you! I'm drooling over the pretty stuff too!

  5. Ah, a woman after my own heart. I have this thing about Pyrex love for them stems from some deep place inside me. I cannot resist them. I gravitate towards them with an inexplicable magnetism in stores, at flea markets, in other people's blog posts. I especially love the vintage ones that are white on the inside and colored/patterned on the outside. They are like crack.

    I too am hoping to slowly replace plastic with Pyrex, and I think I'm going to go for those ones you pictured with the basic blue lids...but perhaps I'll keep an eye out for alternatives as well. I already use glass-lidded ones for fridge storage (and obviously in the oven).

    Oh, Pyrex. How I love thee.


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